T Entangled in history awash with events of war and conflict, both India and Pakistan have ensured the representation of national narratives in their respective media. Being apprehensive neighbours since the day of partition, the sensation of patriotism has led these nations towards three major wars and numerous skirmishes on the borders, claiming lives of the peoples on both sides of the border. The mutual derision for the ‘other’ has secured the text, both written and visual. Besides endeavours to justify stances of conflicts, these narratives of history have also created space for standoffs. An attempt to such reconciliation and shatter the image of ‘other’ is investigated in Indian movies, Border and Bajrangi Bhai Jan, through grammatology of image. The signification in the image is explored by applying Multimodal introduced by Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen. The multimodal by the theorists have been appropriated by utilizing Halliday’s theoretical Systemic Functional Grammar. Both of the movies have been selected to compare the occasions depicted the historical backdrop of war and fear-based oppression and occasionally delineated attempts of reconciliation.
Multimodal, Narrative, Signs, Systemic Functional Grammar
The ingrained belief system of the audience is much impacted by the spells of the media screen, and maintained hatred for the ‘other’ is sustained. The events of history pertaining to the religious and ethnic import between the two countries have promulgated similar text in the popular fiction and visual narratives, permeating historical hatred among the audience in general. Hatred for the ‘other’, as an instinctive tendency, expresses the aversion towards some idea, event, person, social structure or any other entity. It develops an innate behaviour that nourishes feelings of ‘psychological other’. That is to say, an individual from a community does not admit assimilation with the individuals of the other community on the basis of race, colour, creed and caste. These sentiments of hatred are further strengthened by recalling the grim events of the past and impending threats of the future. An individual is ideologically presented with the political, fictional and visual texts to nourish his doubts about the "others", sometimes amounting to the growth of hatred towards them that often culminates in war crimes and bloodshed. Similarly, the representation of the ‘other’ in the visual text of both India and Pakistan, the audience is moved towards constructing the identity of the self and sense of the ‘other’ for the other.
While the literary-historical narrative has been preserved by writers like Manto, Kushwant Singh, Chaman Nahal, Intezar Hussain, and Bapsi Sidhwa etc., in cinema, the earlier films were shot to record accounts of nationalistic tendency and lofty ideals of patriotism. The cinematic text later started portraying the hatred for ‘the other’, and in 1965, when both India and Pakistan were plunged into war, Indian cinema released its first film on the subject titled Upkar(1967). With another visual narrative Hindustan Ki Qasam (1973), based on the 1971 War, Indian cinematic vision gave way to set the trend of discovering the Indian identity in terms of nationalism and instilling anti-Pakistan sentiment among its Indian viewers.
The cinematic activities in Pakistan made a way to depict the narrative of hatred much later, but the popular television dramas like Angar Wadi (1994) and Alpha Bravo Charlie (1998) belong to the category of visual narratives that help in sustaining the corresponding feeling of ‘otherness’ among the Pakistani audience. The recent Pakistani film Waar (2013) records massive audience response and is commended as a counter-narrative to what Indian cinema has been propagating.
Duncan Mcleod comments,
India and Pakistan were founded on two very different ideological and theological foundations. India, a constituted secular state whereby religion would play no part in the body politic; Pakistan founded as a Muslim state, a home for the Muslims of South Asia who would have been subordinated by Hindu majoritarianism without the creation of Pakistan. The crux of these antagonisms has manifested itself in a conflict of Self and Other, with both states questioning the legitimacy of the other. (McLeod, 2008, p.04)
The image shot in a visual narrative created by an intellectual (filmmaker) is intended to focalize information for the audience the way it has been structured. The narrative in visual text imparts relevant information, which allows the audience to infer possible sketch of the entity portrayed in narrative and form an attitude towards its historical and ideological ground from where it has been originated. Even in this case, the entity portrayed is removed from the natural settings or environment; it still imparts and maintains narrative information and supportive details.
Psychologist, artists, media critics and designers, all have explored the distinct means by which visual images are organized and sequenced to create a narrative experience. They have explored how the viewer’s attentions are directed and meanings dictated across transitions. For instance, the establishing shot at the start of the scene serves the purpose of an introduction or making viewers aware of the type of event they are going to watch.
The unwavering enmity between India and Pakistan punctuates writing framed in a biting analogy of bloodbath after partition in 1947. The antagonistic bitterness and the savage confrontations brought about narratives over-burdened with the injuries of partition in 1947, including the uncertain clash of Kashmir. Three noteworthy wars between the two countries fill in as an indication of the disrupted issues driving them to the limit of an atomic war.
The attempts, on the other hand, for peace processes and reconciliations, have been integrated into the thematic structures of the text, both visual and narrative, to inspire social connectivity across the border. Such episodes of mutuality for peace and reconciliation are attested by Duncan Mcleod (2008), contending for dependence on a solitary hypothetical approach saying,
The role of diplomacy was to protect the preconditions for these criterion, while promoting peaceful relations between various states. It is important to note, that the bilateral relationship between India and Pakistan has not been theorized in the same way, partially due its tangled history (p.06)
The signification in the images of a text offer distinct interpretations for analysis, furthering perspective of the audience in the thread of information. The chronicles of the history illustrate the national narratives, supporting the details the film producers tend to propagate. These narratives, both written and visual, establish coherence in popular narratives and supplement the ideological stances of the historical facts. The ‘opinioned’ images in the movie are intended to be focalized by the viewer who structures the information and forms an attitude towards historical and ideological stance where they have been generated.
In the present research, the intended meanings conveyed through metafunctions in the images of the movies are investigated and attributed meanings concerned with the attempts of reconciliation and resolution are signified.
1. How do visual narratives (Border and Bajrangi Bhai Jan) promote an account of historical perspective in Indo-Pak context?
2. How do signification and metafunctions in the images of the movies instil the idea of reconciliation and resolution?
Multimodal is applied to two of the movies, Border and Bajrangi Bhai Jan. The research is focused on historiographic narration to ‘other’ the ‘other’. The movie Border chronicles the war of 1971 between India and Pakistan. Bajrangi Bhai Jan connotes to the other issues concerning the trespassing of the ‘other’ into the ‘others’ territory. The research is delimited to two of these movies that have not been analyzed from a semiotic perspective. The images for the analysis are selected conveniently as a signification for peace or consequences of war, and hatred runs almost towards the end of the narrative. Only two images from each of the movie have been selected for the analysis through semiotics and Multimodal. The signs in the images are analyzed into iconic, symbolic and indexical; further, the analysis is conducted through the metafunctions and their variants. The study is beneficial in initiating linguistic/semiotic outlook in ideological images for analysis.
Critical Framework and Research Method
A sign ... [in the form of a representamen] is something which stands to somebody for something in some respect or capacity. It addresses somebody, that is, creates in the mind of that person an equivalent sign, or perhaps a more developed sign. (Peirce 1931-58, 2.228)
Visual narratives of both India and Pakistan are taken as ‘texts’ to interpret through multimodal. The multiplication of the meanings is to be investigated by Kress and Leeuwen multimodal.
The dominant visual language is now controlled by the global cultural/technological empires of the mass media, which disseminate the examples set by exemplary designers and, through the spread of image banks and computer-imaging technology, exert a ‘normalizing’ rather than explicitly ‘normative’ influence on visual communication across the world. (Kress & Leeuwan, 2006, p. 05)
The key idea of investigation in the visual text is ‘sign’, which expresses meanings through semiotic modes. ‘This means that in social semiotics, the sign is not the pre-existing conjunction of a signifier and a signified, a ready-made sign to be recognized, chosen and used as it is, in the way that signs are usually thought to be ‘available for use in ‘semiology’ (Gunther & Leeuwen, 2006, pp. 7-8).
In Halliday's systemic functional approach, each semiotic mode exhibits three metafunctions. They are Ideational metafunctions, Interpersonal metafunctions and Textual metafunctions.
Ideational metafunction punctuates the experience of the material world, around and inside the participant. This representational metafunction highlights the representation of the interaction between entities. Objects within images are shown to interact via the use of vectors (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006). In Halliday’s concept, the perception of reality is represented and constructed in the physical act of happening, sensing, doing, becoming and being. All these participants are incorporated in the outwards appearances like actors, sensors, goals and receivers etc.
In the image analysis, the interpersonal metafunction can be detected as the interaction between the represented participant and the viewer, structured by any such technical feature of representation, including the distance of the participant, gaze of the participant, or the specific angle from which the interactive participant (viewer) is made to view represented participant. If the represented participant gazes at the viewer, the image is taken as ‘demand’, while if the gaze is not directly vectored at the viewer, it invites the gaze of the viewer. ‘The choice of distance can suggest different relations between represented participants and viewers’ (Kress & van Leeuwen,2006, p. 124).
Edward T.Hall refers to spaces as psychological processes in his work ‘Proxemics: the psychology of people’s use of space’. The camera angle and the way the represented participant is shot create the interaction; close shot signifies a kind of intimacy between the two, a long shot signifies impersonality, whereas the medium shot signifies objective and social views.
When the producer is not present, the represented participants convey and address the viewer on behalf of the producer. The viewer will recognize the communicative intentions they are expected to infer; they can ‘recognize the substance of what is meant while refusing the speaker’s interpretations and assessments’ (qtd. in Kress & Leeuwen,2006, p.115)
Textual metafunction focuses on creating coherence in the text. It encapsulates ideational and interpersonal metafunctions in an organized way. It offers salience, value and framing of the information.
Elements placed on the left side are considered to be the chunks of information already known to the viewer or given. Whereas elements on the right side are new. Moreover, the concept of the ideal can be associated with the salience or patterns of dominance between the participants.
Salience can be defined as the way the represented participants or elements are made to ask for retention or attention. ‘The presence or absence of framing devices (realized by elements which create dividing lines, or by actual frame lines) disconnects or connects elements of the image’ (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006, p. 177).
Image A (Border)
Image A narrates the event of to one battle in the trench. The Pakistani commander orders a bayonet charge on the Indian side, and in the attempt, there is a massacre in the trench and the post, claiming heavy loss of life on both sides. Pakistani soldiers try to capture the post, but the offence is beaten back, injuring Dharamvir to death. One of the wounded Pakistani soldiers, who is captured by the Indians, implores for mercy. He is given assurance by Major Kuldip that he would be given fair treatment, the treatment given to the soldiers. He also reveals on asking that the Pakistani officials plan to capture Jaiselmer, Jodhpur and Delhi. He is offered water to quench his thirst. He is not shot by the Indian side and is kept alive.
The setting in the image is again the war setting. The image has taken the view of the trench where the position of the soldier is spatial as the Pakistani soldier is on the left side, from where the offence is launched. The Indian, on the other hand, is on the right side, offering water to the wounded soldier from the Indian post. The right hand of the Pakistani soldier is pressed against his chest, where he receives a fatal injury. The blood on his uniform is an indexical sign, signifying the wounds of the war. The colour of the uniform of the Pakistani soldier in khaki, while the Indians wear a dark green uniform. The colour of both uniforms is symbolic in interpretation. The Indian soldier offers water to the wounded; his both hands hold the bottle of water, signifying the humane attitude even towards the enemy. Furthermore, there is a soldier who is lying died in on the Pakistani side. His boots are visible as his position signifies the position of a dead. The colour of his uniform signifies his identity as a Pakistani soldier. The spatial position of both soldiers also connotes their position in the war. The Pakistani soldier is positioned against the wall of the trench as he is not in the position to hold himself; he needs support. The Indian soldier, on the other side is on his knees, bending to offer water to the injured. His position can be taken as a symbolic sign, spatially signifies his better strategic position in the war and the upper hand over the enemy.
In image A, the vector is formed by the gaze of the Pakistani soldier who is fatally wounded and asks for mercy. He is Reactor, while his phenomena are the Indian soldier who shows mercy in the reactional process. On the other hand, the Indian soldier offering water to the wounded is an actor in the transactional process. The wounded soldier is the goal for him, and he is also the recipient.
The locative circumstance is the trench of the border post. The bottle of water is the circumstance of means for the Indian soldier. He also serves as carrier, as in advancing towards reconciled humanity; he shows mercy towards the wounded enemy. He is the carrier with humanity as an attribute in the analytical process.
The acts of both represented participants are ‘offers’. The action of the Indian soldier and the gaze of the Pakistani wounded soldier are offered, inviting the viewer perspective over the narrative. The frame figures both of the represented participants from an oblique angle with framing the Indian soldier in a medium shot while the Pakistani soldier in a close shot. The intimation of the Indian soldier is made proximate with the viewer, while the Pakistani soldier is also made to infer from the closest angle.
The ‘given’ in the image is the wounded Pakistani soldier, while ‘new’ is the humane side exposed of the Indian soldier. The new for the viewer is the Indian attitude towards the enemy when the enemy is fatally wounded and seeks mercy which is granted. The Indian soldier helping the Pakistani soldier is the event for consideration on the part of the viewer and the event supporting the reconciled attitude towards each other. The new is made to apprehend the humane side of the Indian character even for the enemy.
The salience is maintained by framing the Indian soldier more than the wounded Pakistani soldier in the image. The sharp colour of the Indian soldier is marked off as a distinct juncture. The gesture of his body in helping the wounded is framed to give a complete picture of himself. He is kept on the upper edge of the frame as compared to the wounded soldier who lies against the wall. The Indian soldier is maintained ‘ideal’ as his spatial position connotes, while the Pakistani soldier is portrayed as ‘real’.
Image B depicts the events following the horrors of the war. Dharamvir was engaged to a village girl and expected to marry her as soon as he returns. The news of his death in the battle is shocking for her blind mother. She prepares for the marriage and waits for his safe return. She is aged and has nobody except her only son to take care of. She is hesitant to allow Dharamvir when he is ordered by the authorities to join the battalion on the war front. The clip of the movie is embedded in the end, where the horrors of war are emphasized for their effects. The blind mother of a soldier is looking for her son amidst turmoil and death in the desert. The setting is a war scene, and destruction in war can be interpreted as the ground is littered with dead bodies of soldiers while the tanks are stationary, omitting smokes of damage in the war. The desert in the background is bare and barren, signifying the destruction and barrenness for human activity, except death.
The woman is dressed in white, a symbolic sign signifying her widowhood. White amidst turmoil is iconic for hope. She is the one who is made the centre of the activity amidst death. She looks for her only son as she wishes her son to get married. She holds Sehra (headgear for the groom) in her hand for her son. She intends to dress her son with all the ornaments available for the occasion of marriage. The scene portrayed by the mother is ironic. She searches for her son amidst the horrors of the war where death prevails. She is blind, but she is not led by anyone, a symbolic sign signifying her isolated self as her son dies in the war. She holds Sehra in her hands, whereas her son needs a shroud. The expression on her face signifies her distrust and agony over the loss that is irreparable. The overall impact of the scene is gloomy. The spatial features of the setting also signify the decline of human values as Dharamvir’s mother walks down the sandy slope, a declining landscape, signifying deterioration and catastrophe.
Image C (Bajrangi Bhai Jan)
Image B depicts the vector formed by the blind mother who is in search of her son. She searches her son in the battlefield littered with the dead bodies of the soldiers. The mother is a reactor, involved in a transactional process and searches for her son as a goal. She moves helplessly in the desert where no one guides her way.
The locative circumstance is the desert, the battlefield of India and Pakistan. She has headgear in her hand, usually worn by the grooms at the wedding ceremony. The headgear is a circumstance of means for her. She is also a carrier in the analytical process, having the attribute of motherly affection for the son who has been killed in the war.
The act by the mother is an ‘offer’ for the viewer as it invites towards the inferences of threats of war and the catastrophe of consequences. The search of the mother for the dead son invites the viewer’s attention towards the horror of war. She is framed amidst the chaos of dead bodies and smoke. She is shot from the frontal angle, ensuring the involvement of the viewer in the process of making inferences.
The ‘given’ in the image is the motherly affections of the one who searches for her lost son, while the ‘new’ is related to the defeated Pakistani Army with dead bodies of the soldiers. The character of the blind mother is framed dominant as she is the only actor in the image. She is clad in white, appropriating the distinct juncture. Her character is made ‘ideal’ as her search and affection for her son is motherly, while the ‘real’ is the dominant destruction caused by war, killing humans on both sides as visible in the visual frame. She is framed in a medium shot for the analysis of her character by the viewer. The salience of her character is maintained by the central position she acquires in the visual frame for the close analysis by the viewer.
Image C is taken from the scene when Bajrangi, with the connivance of a local agent, crosses the border through a tunnel in the desert and enters the territory of Pakistan. He has no way left beside his own attempt to convey Munni to her parents. He travels and reaches the border at night and stays there to seek permission to walk into the territory of Pakistan. He is forced by the agent who helps in crossing the border through the tunnel, but he refuses to do an illegal act, as he is a devotee of Hanuman, the Hindu deity and can never do anything immoral. He is warned of the danger of crossing the border, but he pays no heed to the warnings and waits for the patrolling rangers to come. The time the patrolling rangers arrive, he seeks permission, to which they react as the act of trespassing the border is not, at any rate, allowed; rather, they beat him and investigate whether he is a spy or really someone without a ‘brain’. To his repeated imploring, the officer in charge allows him to go back safely to his homeland, but Bajrangi again slips into the second tunnel, as told by the agent, crosses the border and waits for the patrolling rangers to grant him permission. The rangers squad beats him while Munni spectacles the scene and cries. The officer in charge is moved by the sentiments Munni displays and warns him to go in vague words. The third visit of the patrolling rangers again comes across Bajrangi, who is waiting for their permission to enter the territory. He is given permission by the officer in charge of the assurance that he will go back to India when the job is over. Bajrangi vows by Hanuman that he will leave for the country as soon as he delivers Munni to his parents.
The setting is outdoors, a desert located at the border of Pakistan and India. The setting serves as a symbolic sign signifying the deserted relationship of both countries. The wire fence of both countries is symbolic of the constraints in relation to both India and Pakistan. The characters in the image are patrolling rangers, iconic signs for their responsibility to protect the borders of the country. They are aiming at or holding weapons in their hands. Their guns can also be taken as an indexical sign, signifying the threats and dangers in the border zone. Bajrangi is on his knees, symbolically signifying the stature of someone making an imploration. He begs the officials to allow him to enter the territory of Pakistan on the assurance that he will leave the country afterwards. His hands are directed towards the officer in charge, symbolically signifying his attitude of submissiveness to the authorities and a gesture signifying a request. Bajrangi claims sympathy of the officials and enters the territory of Pakistan with ‘permission’.
The vector in the image is formed by the action of the actors in the image and some reactors who gaze at Bajrangi. Bajrangi is an actor in the transactional process when he implores the officials of Pakistan Rangers to let him into the territory with permission. The goal of his act is for the head official deputed to fence the border. Some of the other soldiers are also actors as they aim at Bajrangi as their goal, with their guns as a circumstance of means. The vector in the image is also formed by the gaze of some riding soldiers who direct their gaze at Bajrangi as phenomena. They are reactors in the relational process. In another sense, these Pakistani soldiers are also carrier in the symbolic process, as the symbolic suggestive of their duty is to protect the border. Their attribute is to protect the border by securing movements through trespassing.
The locative circumstance is the Pakistani border in the desert state. Some of them use guns as a circumstance of means, while Bajrangi uses his hands as a circumstance of means while imploring the officials.
The image is an ‘offer’ for interpretation as an Indian risk his life for the sake of Munni, a Pakistani, and crosses the border. The represented participants and the interactive participants are involved in the process of interacting meanings as the interactive participants of both countries are interacting with each other. The act is made to be known by the interactive participants for mutual inferences.
The frame occupies long shots of the represented participants in order to make the interactive participants analyze them through social distances. The angle of the shot is oblique, connoting to the marginalized representation of the fact on-screen when two of the nations are dealt with suspect and threat. The presence of Bajrangi in Pakistan’s territory is full of the suspect for the ranger officials, while Bajrangi’s expectations from them are also doubted.
The ‘given’ in the image is the response by Pakistan Rangers when they find a stranger who has entered the territory by foul means. The ‘new’ is the attitude of commitment on Bajrangi’s part, who refuses to adopt any backdoor channel for his purpose and waits for the officials to allow him to enter Pakistan.
The salience in the image is maintained by the framing of the characters. Bajrangi is given a prominent spatial position, almost in the centre of the soldiers surrounding him. The ‘ideal’ in the image is the character of Bajrangi, who implores and even bears humiliation for the sake of Munni in Pakistan. The ‘real’ is the reaction of the soldiers to the one to whom they have been deployed. The real is the responsibility of the border post to protect and secure borders from the transportation of the strangers in the territory.
Image D (Bajrangi Bhai Jan)
Image D from Bajrangi Bhai Jan is shot when Munni is conveyed safely to her hometown. The area is cordoned off as the reports indicating the progress made by the search party is broadcast on social media. The presence of an ‘Indian’ in the territory of Pakistan becomes a matter of great concern. They deploy a post at the major junctures of the area. Bajrangi, with the help of Chand Nawab, slips and attracts the police towards him, and Munni is safely transported across the check post. She meets her mother, who takes Munni’s presence to be a dream, while Chand Nawab captures the moments on his Handycam. On the other hand, Bajrangi is shot a bullet by the police and tortured severely. The execution of the orders of the big Pakistani ups seemingly renders Bajrangi a spy.
He is arrested and tortured in the police station, but he remains quiet as he has achieved his mission. The story of the Bajrangi and Munni’s identity is confirmed by the Pakistani officials in India, but the Pakistani ministry remains deaf in acknowledging the facts of Bajrangi’s innocence.
The setting is indoors, the interior view of the police station. Bajrangi is behind the bars and his hands are tied to the ceiling. He is tortured to have his confession extracted. The characters in the image are police officers and officers from law enforcing agencies. Bajrangi is caught and tortured by the policemen. His bare body in the lock up is indexical as he is the recipient of the torture. His hands are tied to the ceilings, symbolically signifying his state of helplessness. The policemen surround him with sticks in their hands as the officer from law enforcing agencies desist them from torturing Bajrangi. The officers in the foreground are pointing towards Bajrangi for his innocence is authenticated. The index finger directed towards Bajrangi by the chief officer is an indexical sign, signifying the facts related to his innocence. The expressions on the officer’s face while narrating the tale of Bajrangi’s innocence are symbolic, conveying his displeasure on the treatment given to him on the foreign land. He is standing amidst Bajrangi, an Indian, and his subordinate, a Pakistani, and mediates between rationality and nationality. By his attire, he seems more protective as compared to anyone of them; he wears muffler as a prop that signifies his tilt towards being more protective and secured. The black and white strips on his muffler symbolically signify his patterened judgement of the situation between two complex dichotomies: good and evil. His facial expressions indexically signify his split mental state arriving at some final disposition of the issue as his index finger pointed towards the accused is indicating Bajrangi’s innocence burdened with the conventionally triggered animosity of both countries. The background is dark, symbolic for the signification of treatment with the criminals in the darkroom. The rays of light pierce into the lockup, symbolically signifying the rays of hope for Bajrangi amidst darkness. He is subjected to the oppression of politically motivated ideologies. He has been brought to the political cross and is being crucified for sin of saving a innocent girl, saving humanity. He shows up as Christ while people standing nigh are dwarfed by his Christ like endurance. His silence is divine that does not yield to the instruments of violence. His cause for humanity has enabled his soul to endure pains inflicted on him without breathing a word of ‘forced confession’.
The vector in the image is formed by the act of the Intelligence Officer of Pakistan. He points his finger towards Bajrangi while he makes an argument regarding Bajrangi’s innocence. He is an actor in the action process, while Bajrangi is his goal for him when he makes a statement. The subordinate on his back is a reactor, who gazes at his officer at his back as phenomena. Bajrangi is tied with ropes in the lock up unconscious as he submits to the torture being given. He is a carrier in the relational process with innocence as an attribute. The policemen in the lockup are also actors in an auction process. They torture Bajrangi as their goal with a stick in their hands.
The locative circumstance is a police station in the Kashmir Valley, Pakistan. The Intelligence Officer uses his hands as a circumstance of means while the policemen in the lockup use stick as their circumstance of means.
The acts of the represented participants are ‘offers’ for inferences made on the part of the interactive participants. The act of the intelligence officer realizing the innocence of Bajrangi after making confirmation is made to be realized by the interactive participants also. The human aspects are highlighted at the discovery of Bajrangi’s presence in Pakistan by the officials of Pakistan.
The frame figures the Intelligence officer as central. His intimacy with the interactive participants is made prominent by the close shot taken for the scene. The close shot is framed for a close analysis of the text in terms of recognition of humanity.
The ‘given’ in the image is Bajrangi, who is being tortured in the lockup for investigation. His character is familiar with the interactive participant, while the ‘new’ in the image is the attitude shift of the intelligence officer of Pakistan for an Indian.
The salience in the image is the sustained character of Bajrangi, who sacrifices for Munni. On the other hand, the intelligence officer is the one who is shot prominent when he makes a statement of Bajrangi’s innocence. His character in the movie is central as far as the official investigations are concerned. He remains central in the image when he declares Bajrangi to be innocent and engineer his release against the wish of the high command in Pakistan.
The ‘ideal’ in the image is the character of the intelligence officer who stands by humanity. The ‘real’ in the image is the situation in which Bajrangi is caught.
The national cinema of both India and Pakistan articulates texts supporting the historical details and prevalent climate of othering. The significations in the visual text interest the ideological stances among the audience regarding nationalism and emotions of patriotism, embedded with the idea of hatred for the other as a sign of jingoistic tendency. Movies like Border and Bajrangi Bhai Jan validate the fact that the representation of either side of the border is tainted with the opinion of animosity by the other, and lacunae indicating an attempt to reconcile at the expense of the ‘damage’ they have given to each other.
Both of the nations across the border entertain a strange bilateral relationship with each other, the importance of which increases when the events are most conflicted. The ties between the two independent states are frequently strained as the relationship remains on the edgy precipice, leading to chances towards the nuclear war, seeking outright destruction of either of the state. The bilateral infrastructure strengthening the very ties between the states was established at the very beginning of the stressed partition and even proved to be durable at the events of inter-dominion tensions. The relationships of both of the states enjoy a unique texture.
It is thoroughly critical for both India and Pakistan to uphold the consequences of separation as both states were conceived through the partition. Whenever their mutual relations have been at risk, i.e. during active wars and events leading to wars, the bilateral dialogue processes have been concluded into paradoxical agreements. Both sides endeavor to engineer their respective ideologies in an emphatic fashion to objectify their subjective opinion by distorting the facts through selective narrativization of the historically controversial claims. This approach has always worsened the peace prospects in the subcontinent.
Similarly, the visuals narratives on both sides of the border maintain, representing attempts of reconciliation and resolution as investigated in the study. In Bajrangi Bhai Jan, an emotional appeal is generated to appease the issues related to the ‘psychological other’, and a public opinion is constructed through values of humanity and brotherhood. The threats for the sovereignty of either of the states also need to be articulated in order to claim the veracity of grievances suffered on both sides of the border, instead of inciting reprisals for the historic wrongs over which nobody has control now.
The need of consolidating the structures of the two states is necessary. Moreover, in the presence of the conventional plots in the war movies or movies concerning the grave issues related to the animosity between the two states, there is an attempt of deeper significance, i.e. understanding the roots of mutual distrust that may lead to friendly ties in future. Otherwise, both countries at their best manoeuvre to pursue agendas hostile to each other and could not do away with the concerns they had been tethered to. These sets of issues pertaining to the hatred between both countries were of vested interest and shaping factors in the politics across the border.
With the consistent trend of portraying the other as an enemy state, the peace processes also ran into ‘deadlocks’. These deadlocks in the Confidence Building Measures sprung up from the historical facts of great concerns for both of the countries while the mild narrative of displaying a room for reconciliation is overlapped. The dialogues and the cooperation between the leaders of both India and Pakistan were as much a part of their foreign policy agenda as factors compelling on both sides of the border, including territorial disputes, terrorism, issues at the line of control, property or people.
Putting aside the wave of well-wrought peace-promoting movies which but extend a bonanza of sympathy and compassion among its audience, the study gauges its impact on pragmatic sides: diplomatic fronts. In Indo-Pak history, it has never been easy to popularize a humane claim which often demands an alteration of the popular embed claims. The distortion of the facts, in order to appropriate national narratives, has been necessarily necessitated since partition. Political constructions through exploiting facts have become given/ truths of the masses, and erosion of these through such smattering movies seems arduous. Despite all the embedded mutual animosity, these movies booed off the narrative of hatred and became the harbinger of new perception in compliance with the crescendo of vigorant representationally of politically boisterous concoctions.
All such attempts of cooperation between both countries were apprehended as the logic of maintaining a relationship had been crafted at the government level of India and Pakistan. Moreover, the issues concerning threats to each other were broad enough to be tackled by the delegates meeting on several occasions to promote confidence. The confidence-building measures paradoxically connote to the disentanglement of each of the states from the other on the one hand, while on the other, the concerns about developing cross border cooperation remained materialistic for the governments of both India and Pakistan. Such a dynamic nature of the relationship on either side of the border was upheld. The pertinence of undertaking such attempts of cooperation arose out of the vital concerns relating to the viability of India and Pakistan.
The trajectories of India and Pakistan are difficult to predict at any given point as possibilities and alternatives of distinct nature are available at each end. All the agendas set for cooperation between India and Pakistan are mostly focused on the contemporary timeframe, highlighting the issues aggravating the acrimony between them and ignoring the historical legacy of partition. The general perception of the audience for the ‘other’ is much towards othering in a psychological sense and creating an image of a hostile neighbour. The agendas hostile to the ‘other’ are most likely to appeal to the audience at home, rather than targeting the ‘others’ across the border.
© 2016, All rights reserved - by GLR journal